Pesto! Pesto! Presto! Let’s make easy and authentic pesto, presto (soon)! 

Authentic homemade pesto is a gloriously simple, fresh, and makes a superb pasta sauce, condiment, and dip. As soon as all the ingredients come together the smell is captivating and, for me, nostalgic. I could eat this by the spoonful. I love it on warm fresh bread, hot pasta, or on top of vine ripe summer tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Authentic Italian style pesto is a thick, green sauce that tastes bright and herby from the basil, and salty and rich from the cheeses and pine nuts. It should be garlicky, with pleasant grassiness from good quality olive oil. Fresh made pesto is one of our family favorites! It is quick to make and freezes great too! 

pesto pasta

How to Make Authentic Pesto Genovese 

Traditional Pesto Making Method

  1. Crush garlic using a mortar and pestle. Add pine nuts; crush with the garlic. Add basil leaves gradually, making circular movements with the pestle, until a smooth paste forms.
  2. Mix Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pecorino Romano cheese using a wooden spoon. Stir in olive oil until pesto is blended.

My Version 

To save time I use a blender or food processor to make my pesto. It is easy and I find that more people have blenders that a mortar and pestle. The more important part is the right ratios and simple ingredients! 

Basic Pesto Ingredients 

  • Basil 
  • Olive oil 
  • Garlic
  • Cheeses: parmigiano and pecorino 
  • Salt 

If you want a twist on classic pesto try: Fresh Arugula Walnut Pesto (vegan recipe).  You might also like, Pesto Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Tomatoes (video). 

Tips for Making Pest0 in a Blender

Making pesto in a blender is easy!

Freeze the blade A trick to avoid the risk of the heat produced by the food processor spoiling the pesto flavor is best to put the removable parts of the processor or the blender in the freezer for 20 minutes before using it.

Place all ingredients at the same time In order to reduce the amount of time the leaves are in contact with the blades (causing browning and spoiling flavor) put all your ingredients in the food processor at once using the maximum speed; if you work fast, you’ll get a great pesto. It’s helpful to stop the processor three or four times to scrape the pesto from the sides with a spatula.

How long does Pesto last in the fridge?

Store pesto in jars or airtight container or sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for about one week. I put a final layer of olive oil to seal the top and act as a natural sealer before putting a secure lid on top. 

Can you Freeze Pesto?

Yes! You can absolutely freeze homemade pesto! I like to freeze them in an ice tray. Start by placing pesto in clean ice try containers and freezing them. After a couple hours the pesto cubes will be frozen, pop them out and store them in a freezer safe bag. You can keep the cubes in the freezer for up to 6 months. Pull out the delicious homemade pesto 1, 2, or 8 cubes at a time to add to your recipes. Pesto may also be frozen in small jars or plastic containers for up to 9-12 months.

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History of Pesto Genovese

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, which is located in the northern region of Italy. It originated around the 16th century and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with Parmesan cheese and olive oil. The Italian word for pesto: pestare, means to pound, or to crush. Pesto was originally prepared with a marble mortar and wooden pestle. The ingredients were pounded or crushed with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. Now, there are so many different ways to make pesto! 

Pasta shape “Trofie” to serve with classic pesto sauce

Trofie (TROH-fee) This short, tapered, twisted pasta from Genoa pairs well with pesto and other simple sauces.

Trofie are a short twisted traditionally fresh pasta from the north-western Italian region of Liguria. They were apparently invented in a town on the eastern Ligurian Riviera called Recco near Genova, which is also famous for focaccia. See my focaccia recipe here! 

I remember when I visited Cinque Terra, Italy in my 20’s. I ate homemade trofie al pesto with a group of my girlfriends as we looked out over the Mediterranean Sea. The delicious flavors and the salty sea air is a memory I treasure to this day. Bring a taste of Italia to your table with this authentic Italian pesto recipe! pesto pasta

Serve pesto with vine ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. It will look like the Italian flag on a plate!  

From my Cucina to Your Table. Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)

Made with Amore, Elena

More Delicious Recipes for YOU

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pesto pasta

Pesto Genovese (classic basil pesto)

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: N/A
  • Total Time: 57 minute
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Homemade pesto is a gloriously simple, fresh, and makes a superb pasta sauce, condiment, and dip. As soon as all the ingredients come together the smell is captivating and, for me, nostalgic. I could eat this by the spoonful. I love it on warm fresh bread, hot pasta, or on top of vine ripe summer tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Fresh made pesto is one of our family favorites!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
  • 4 packed cups sweet Italian basil, leaves picked, thick stems removed
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil (add as needed if consistency is too thick)
  • 1⁄2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, (Parmesan cheese), grated
  • 1⁄4 cup Pecorino Romano, grated

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor, Vitamix, or blender* and blend until coarsely combined or smooth depending on preference. I like to add the pine nuts last so I can control how course I want the pesto. I generally prefer smooth pesto, but chunky/more coarse is great too. Stop 3-4 times to scrape sides with spatula. Transfer to small glass bowl with a lid or canning jar. Top with 1/2 inch olive oil and chill. The olive oil on top prevents browning of basil when it stays stored in the fridge. Enjoy with pasta*, on sandwiches, or as a dip!

Notes

*Instruction Tip: A trick to avoid the risk of the heat produced by the food processor spoiling the pesto flavor is best to put the removable parts of the processor or the blender in the freezer for 20 minutes before using it. Also, in order to reduce the amount of time the leaves are in contact with the blades (causing browning and spoiling flavor) put all your ingredients in the food processor at once using the maximum speed; if you work fast, you’ll get a great pesto. It’s helpful to stop the processor three or four times to scrape the pesto from the sides with a spatula.

**Serving Tip: To serve with pasta, combine with a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water so it will coat the pasta evenly.

Keywords: basil, pesto, pesto Genovese, pasta, main dish, dip, side dish, Italian recipe, garlic,